Lake Victoria- Self Drive Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania with 4×4 Africa

Lake Victoria Drive

Lake Victoria is the largest land in Africa that is shared between Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania. its Stretching over an area of 59,947 square kilometers and the world’s second largest fresh water lake by surface area after Lake Superior in North America.

It was named after Queen Victoria by the British explorer John Hanning Speke, who was the first European to reach it in 1858. Self drive Around lake Victoria is offered by 4×4 Africa in a luxury landcruiser jeep. The lake is dotted with numerous islands, some of which are inhabited. The Ssese Islands, located in the north western part of the lake, are the most prominent group of islands. It is also known for its rich biodiversity, including various species of fish, mammals, and reptiles. It has been a vital resource for the communities around its shores, supporting fishing and agriculture.

Car Rental to Explore Around Lake Victoria.

Land Cruiser

Self drive around Lake Victoria is recommended by team of 4×4 Africa as it will reward you with the great opportunity to explore the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda, Chimpanzee Watching in Kibale Forest , Rwenzori Trekking , Big five watching in Kenya and Tanzania a visit to Ngorongoro Crater in the famous northern part of Tanzania. Never miss a visit to River Nile.

Get the best long term deal for your self drive around Lake Victoria with the 4×4 Experts in East Africa in a fully equipped Jeep.

  1. Gorilla Trekking in Uganda
  2. Chimpanzee Watching
  3. Wildlife Watching Safari
  4. Ngorongoro Crater Exploration

History of Lake Victoria

Lake Victoria was discovered by John Hanning Speke in 1858 on his famous quest to find the source of the Nile, along with his travel companion Richard Francis Burton. Speke named it Lake Victoria after the reigning Queen of England. At the time, Speke caused much debate in the scientific community by claiming Lake Victoria was the source of the Nile River. Its existence was confirmed by the Welsh-American explorer Henry Morton Stanley who at the time circumnavigated the lake and reported the great outflow was at Ripon Falls on the northern shore of Lake Victoria.

The islands of Lake Victoria are the main attractions and the majority of travelers visit the great lake region for a combination of outdoor activities. The choice ranges from fishing and boat cruises to hiking, walking trails, mountain biking and bird watching. Of course, many holidaymakers visit Lake Victoria for a lovely ‘beach’ holiday at one of the many hotels and resorts along the lake shoreline.

Mountain Gorilla Trekking

Ukerewe Island is the largest island in Lake Victoria and the largest inland island in Africa. The island park is an archipelago which is made up of 27 smaller islands.

The islands are all inhabited by local people except for three that are uninhabitable. The Nansio people are the largest community who live on Ukerewe Island. The island people live off what they catch in Lake Victoria and small-scale farming.
Irondo Point is a popular tourist attraction on Ukerewe Island. It offers a three-way spectacular view of Entebbe in Uganda, Mwanza City in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya.

Things to do on Ukerewe Island include fishing, canoeing, cycling, hiking or walking and taking a cultural tour of a local village.

The Ssese Islands is an outstanding archipelago which is made up of a collection of 84 densely-forested islands. They form the Kalangala District. If your planning your self drive in Uganda, dont miss to include the visit to the ssese islands that has great beaches within Uganda . Dont miss to take the ferry from Entebbe to connect to the islands where there are luxurious lodges and hotels.

The Islands are divided into two main groups:

  1. Bugala Group in the south-west region; named after Bugala Island which is the largest island in the archipelago
  2. Koome Group in the north-eastern region; named after Koome Island which is the largest in that group.

If you’re planning a holiday to Lake Victoria, these four islands are popular options

Ssese Islands

Golden Monkey Tracking

Visiting the Tomb of Dian Fossey

Bugala Island is the largest island in the Ssese archipelago. It covers an area of some 270 square kilometres. It’s the most developed island in Lake Victoria and is easy to get to by ferry which is located at Lutoboka Bay. Kalangala is the main town of Ssese Islands and is located on the eastern end of Bugala Island.

There are two ferries that transport people to Bugala Island and back. The most popular ferry runs from Nakiwogo Dock (located south of Entebbe) to the ferry dock at Kalangala. The second ferry runs from Bukakata (located near Masaka) to the ferry dock at the town of Luku.

Bugala Island has an incredible array of wildlife and many interesting bird species.

Banda Island is a small island that operates as a private leasehold. There is a well-kept campsite and budget lodge on the island and loads of things to do on the island.

Apart from relaxing on the sandy beach, popular activities include trolling for Nile Perch in a Kato or speed boat, canoeing around the whole island, strolling through the rainforest and birdwatching.

There is bilharzia in the waters surrounding the island but because there is no community living in close proximity, the likelihood of picking up the parasite is extremely low.

Bulago Island

Bulago Island is a small island that covers an area of about 2 square kilometres. It has 6 kilometres of sandy beaches and its rugged shoreline is made up of low cliffs and rocky outcrops. The north-eastern tip of the island is covered in by a lush rain forest.

Bulago Island is popular for sailing on Lake Victoria. You can hire small sailboats and windsurfers from the lodge on the island. You can also have a lot of fun water-skiing and tubing.

The island is small so you can enjoy a leisurely hike around the whole island or take a stroll to the rainforest to bird watch. Bulago Island is a birder’s paradise.


Visiting the twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera

Ngamba Island has grown in popularity as a place to visit in Lake Victoria because it’s home to a protected chimpanzee sanctuary. The sanctuary was founded in 1998 to care for orphaned chimpanzees that were rescued in Uganda from poaches and wildlife meat traders. It’s a small island that’s approximately 40 hectares in size and is totally covered by a lush rainforest. It’s also birder’s paradise with over 120 bird species and is home to an interesting array of wildlife.

The best thing about visiting Ngamba Island is you get to see the chimpanzees in their natural habitat. The chimps are kept in a secluded area for their safety but roam freely in the forested section.

Less Tourists Islands on Lake Victoria

Rusinga Island

Rusinga Island lies in the eastern corner of Lake Victoria and falls within Kenya. It’s a long-elongated island that is 16 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide. What makes Rusinga Island famous is the extraordinary presence of rich and important fossil beds that date back some 18 million years.

Rusinga Island Lodge is the most popular place to stay on Rusinga Island. Guests can enjoy fishing, boat cruises, hiking, mountain biking and a selection of water sports.

Mfangano Island

Mfangano Island is located on the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria and is most famous for its ancient rock paintings. They are believed to have been painted by the Bantu Pygmies of Uganda who were the earliest inhabitants of the island region.

The rock paintings on Mfangano Island are thought to be between 1 000 and 4 000 years old.  The site itself is both revered and feared by local inhabitants which means the paintings have been left untouched.

There are two principle sites on the island: a cave close to the water known as Mawanga and a rock shelter found further inland called Kwitone.

Things to do on Lake Victoria – Safari Activities

Activities at Lake Victoria are diverse and play a crucial role in the livelihoods of the communities surrounding the lake. Here are some detailed activities associated with Lake Victoria:


Commercial Fishing: Fishing is a major economic activity around Lake Victoria. The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including Nile perch, tilapia, and catfish. Commercial fishing operations, often using both traditional and modern methods, contribute significantly to the economies of the riparian countries.

Subsistence Fishing: Many local communities engage in subsistence fishing, relying on the lake for a primary source of protein. Small-scale, traditional fishing methods are common among these communities.


The fertile soils around the lake support agriculture. Communities engage in farming activities, cultivating crops such as maize, rice, and vegetables. Some areas may use water from the lake for irrigation.


Ferry Services: Lake Victoria serves as a transportation route, and ferry services operate on the lake, facilitating the movement of people and goods between different locations on its shores.

Fishing Boats: Various types of boats, including traditional wooden canoes and larger fishing vessels, are used for transportation and fishing activities.


Ecotourism: The lake and its surroundings offer opportunities for ecotourism. Visitors can explore the diverse flora and fauna, including birdwatching, and visit islands such as the Ssese Islands.

Recreational Activities: Some areas around the lake have developed tourist resorts offering activities like boat rides, swimming, and cultural experiences. Through these activities, spot several attractions like mammal species – hippos, spotted necked otter, bohor reedbuck, defassa waterbuck, cane rats, giant otter shrew and others. Also, Lake Victoria protects large population of reptiles such as Nile crocodiles, African helmeted turtles, variable mud turtles and others.

Trade and Commerce

Marketplaces: Lakeside towns and cities have marketplaces where fish and agricultural products are bought and sold. These marketplaces are vital hubs for economic activities and trade.

Commercial Centers: Larger towns near the lake often serve as commercial centers, providing goods and services to the surrounding communities.

Water Supply

Lake Victoria serves as a source of water for domestic use, including drinking, cooking, and washing, for communities living along its shores.

Where to Stay on Lake Victoria

Primate Lodge

The great lake – Victoria stretches over three countries – Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania thus having a wide choice of places to spend the nights. Among the accommodations to opt for include;

  • Rubondo Island camp of Tanzania
  • Rusinga Island lodge of Kenya
  • Mfangano Island Camp of Kenya
  • Victoria forest resort of Uganda
  • Brovad Sands Lodge of Uganda.

It’s highly recommended that you book your holiday to Lake Victoria through a reputable tour operator. Book a popular Lake Victoria tour which should include transport arrangements to fly in and out of the Lake Victoria region and ferry rides where needed.

How to access Lake Victoria

Landcruiser Adventure in Uganda

As you are traveling to Lake Victoria, Ferries are the most popular mode of transport for both locals and tourists. The main ports on Lake Victoria are located at:

  1. Kisumu in Kenya
  2. Mwanza in Tanzania
  3. Bukoba in Tanzania
  4. Entebbe in Uganda
  5. Port Bell in Uganda
  6. Jinja in Uganda